Interview with Leon Keer

Dutch artist Leon Keer’s anamorphic paintings hung in the Brand Library last year for NEXUS III, and are currently on view for our inaugural exhibition Aloha, Mr.Hand. Keer comments on society, cultural issues, and the environment by creating narratives with familiar objects that force us to re-examine how we interpret the world around us. Below is our interview with Keer discussing the inspiration behind his most recent pieces with us, getting into a creative flow, and Funky Fridays.

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

The freedom of speech is the most important right in our constitution, the way demonstraters are being chased and hammered down in many countries is an annoyance for me. Also, I find the abuse of power a tricky issue. You see it on the street on a small scale. You see it on large scale in political decisions, both in developed and underdeveloped countries. I am not a speaker, but I feel inspired to make a visual story about the abuse of power. When a certain group of people is demonized, I denounce the situation. 

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

I mostly travel by bike to the studio. Takes me half an hour in where I soak in all the energy around me. That’s what I also do when I am abroad. I scout the neighborhood to find the energy for the next work

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? Do you have a different soundtrack for the various stages of the creative process? 

There is a variety of music I listen to. The broadcasting station I listen to has a variety of music, games and interviews. I like this variety as I get bored very fast if I listen to too much of the same music.

One program on that radio station that I like most is ‘funky friday’ which will bring you to the smooth funky music of the early 90 ties. 

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on you? Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style? 

I really love the work of Leandro Erlich. The grandness of his work and the way he is putting the spectators to another dimension of reality.I love the work of Leandro Erlich. The grandness of his work and the way he is putting the spectators to another dimension of reality are very inspiring

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

The piece Withered Bauhinia was most challenging to make. The background tells the story that many Hong Kong people took to the streets to protest against the ruling power for the sake of democracy. People are left with the choice of either staying home and keeping their opinions to themselves, or attending an unauthorized protest and risking police violence, judgment, and imprisonment. To underline this thought of oppression makes me humble towards these protesters and obliges me to approach the situation with honor and respect.

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

An era of reflections of the people’s voice.

Schedule a visit to see Leon Keer’s work and the other talented artists in “Aloha, Mr. Hand” here. Masks required!

Interview with Amy Sol for NEXUS III at The Brand Library & Art Center

Technically self-taught, Amy Sol has spent many years perfecting her own mixed pigments and materials. Known for a distinctive palette with a subtle ghostly cast, her compositions possess poetically measured images that invoke melancholic pause in spite of their idyllic beauty and calm, feeling at times like the magic of fairytale tempered by the ambivalence of the adult.

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

I painted these works over the summertime of 2020 during the pandemic. I approached these pieces as a form of meditation & introspective peace I was searching for at  the time. The portraits for instance, are focused on medicinal plants I had as reference in my studio with a very limited colored palette. This allowed my mind to wander and relax a bit while I got lost in the small details. I had to look inwards to find calm during times when I could not find it in the outside world. It was my goal to communicate this with each of the paintings. 

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

I always drink tea and try to go on a walk before I work. I’m lucky to live in a pretty beautiful area where there are abundant trees and plantlife to look at. 

It’s was a challenge to stay free of distractions during some of the stranger times this year. I found that if I went straight to work and stayed away from my phone a bit, it helped me maintain a flow state necessary to paint. 

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? 

I listened to a lot of new music I found online, I really enjoyed instrumental lo fi and wavy music playlists just to have going in the background. I spent more time with my windows open just hearing bird sounds as well. I have a broad taste in music, it just depends on the mood and vibe of the moment!! 

When I start sketching, I definitely go for music to help with the creative flow. As things start to get technical and tedious I’ll put on an audio book or podcast to keep myself entertained. 

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on you? 

Many many, but off the top of my head I saw some Eyvind Earle originals at an art fair while I was a teenager. These works definitely sparked something in me and kind of woke me up to the possibilities. 

Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style? 

Sure, I do think his work inspired me to explore and experiment to find a way to uniquely communicate my love of nature. I also loved animation and his art was a sort of bridge from illustration to painting mixed with a strong visual language he made his own, I found all of that intriguing and inspiring. 

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

I think the painting Biome was a challenge to paint because I was trying to express a very strong feeling I was dealing with. It was challenging to synthesize this feeling into one simple and emotionally nuanced portrait but that was my goal.  

This piece started when I was experiencing some old emotions stirring up from my past trauma dealing with severe pneumonia. That trauma sort of re awakened because of this pandemic. This feeling blended into a concept, the reality of interconnectedness of humans and nature and the need to recognize vulnerability as awareness not weakness. 

I started off sketching mycelium-like forms to represent the lungs of the subject. The salamander is a symbol of vulnerability & vitality. I choose an Amphibian because they are sensitive creatures being both land and water borne. Because of this, they are considered accurate indicators of the health of the environment they dwell in.

Her floating head in the darkness sort of reflects this idea that because our minds & egos are all encompassing to our own human experiences, we sometimes forget how interconnected we are to other living things. 

This piece really helped me put some closure on my past experiences & navigate some unresolved emotions. 

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

I hope it will be looked back upon as a time of positive & progressive transformation in the psyche of humans and our push towards a better future. Many artists make art to send messages about what we care about & we communicate what matters most to humanity across a broad spectrum.

 

Visit https://players.cupix.com/p/r6FRkjOZ for a self-guided virtual tour of Nexus III featuring a solo exhibition from Amy Sol at the Brand Library & Art Center .

Photo Tour of NEXUS III at The Brand Library & Art Center

The Brand Library & Art Center and Thinkspace Projects are pleased to present Nexus III, showcasing a curated selection of international artists belonging to the New Contemporary Art Movement. This special exhibition will include mini solo shows from Yosuke Ueno, The Perez Bros, Amy Sol, Leon Keer, Reen Barrera and Uriginal (aka Uri Martinez).

Please enjoy a photo tour through the exhibition below.

Interview with Uri Martinez for Nexus III at the Brand Library & Art Center

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

I’m from Hospitalet, a gypsy area on the outside of Barcelona, where a majority of people come from the south of Spain. The music one grows up there with is flamenco. Flamenco comes from pain, but from that pain, we make a party. Life is sad but you can enjoy this and canalize this pain. If u ask a flamenco singer, he would say, the good singing, hurts. I think it’s a way of being in this world. The poetic and romantic: it can kill you but its love; and if it doesn’t kill you, it will make u stronger

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

Music, coffee, and a big huge smile are what’s most important, and if it’s in the afternoon, some rum. Sometimes while I’m painting I can hear my family singing and clapping and drinking, and at that moment it’s just magic – like amidst chaos comes order threw creativity.

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? Do you have a different soundtrack for the various stages of the creative process? 

I can listen to any kind of music really. I’ll have to stop painting cause my feet are moving and I’m more into dancing than into paint. I love rap, afro dance, dembow, reggaeton, bachata, cumbia, and any kind really.

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

Spain went into lockdown and I got closed into my studio with no materials, so I got into more detailed level I never tried. It was a struggle, where I got fuckin bored of myself and I wanted to try new shit. So I began to add more meaning by adding significant surroundings to my portraits. That first piece was the Q — the quarantine, inspired by a Haris Nukem pic.

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

We were all pricks on the internet but we had fuckin fun mate. I don’t know.

Sometimes I look into the art from the past and lots of times I think it’s pedo, to be honest. and with funny mustaches. 

I’m just a painter. I have no clever words. I grew up selling drugs. I’m drunk most of the time I’m not in my studio, but I’m reaaaaally happy.

For now, the Brand Library and Arts Center are unfortunately not welcoming visitors. This Saturday, November 7 at 1 pm we will go live on our Instagram to tour the show and we will also be sharing a professionally filmed video tour of the exhibitions on our Instagram and Facebook around that same time. A self-guided virtual tour will be shared shortly as well.

Video tour of NEXUS III at the Brand Library & Art Center

Brand Library & Art Center presents:

NEXUS III – curated by Thinkspace Projects

On view virtually from November 7, 2020 through January 6, 2021

Featuring solo projects from:
YOSUKE UENO – Majestic Parade
THE PEREZ BROS – More Bounce
AMY SOL – Forest Dreams
LEON KEER – Contradictions
REEN BARRERA – Dull Maker
URIGINAL (aka URI MARTINEZ) – Sweet Rage

The Brand Library & Art Center and Thinkspace Projects are pleased to present Nexus III, showcasing a curated selection of international artists belonging to the New Contemporary Art Movement. This special exhibition will include mini solo shows from Yosuke Ueno, The Perez Bros, Amy Sol, Leon Keer, Reen Barrera and Uriginal (aka Uri Martinez).

Known for it’s renewed emphasis on figuration, representational genres, and narrative in the wake of art academe’s conceptual turn of the 90s, the New Contemporary Art Movement is shaped by a foundational countercultural edge, public activations, and its social impetus. Largely self-supported and community-driven, the movement has taken shape beyond gallery walls and outside of traditional institutional vetting. Now, as diverse and heterogeneous aesthetically as it is geographically and culturally expansive, the New Contemporary has come into its own as a globally energized art movement.

BRAND LIBRARY & ART CENTER:

Brand Library & Art Center has been a cornerstone for the arts in Southern California since 1956. This unique public library focuses on visual arts and music and provides free services and programs for a diverse community, including a collection of over 110,000 items, subject specialist librarians, exhibitions, concerts, lectures, dance performances, films, and hands-on craft programs for children and adults. Always evolving, Brand Library utilizes new technologies and continues to develop innovative programs to serve an ever-widening public interested in the arts. Brand Library & Art Center is a branch of the City of Glendale Library, Arts & Culture Department.